WINCHELSEA AND RYE
Medieval Sussex—The suddenness of Rye—The approach by night-Cities of the plain—Old Winchelsea—The freakish sea—New Winchelsea —The eternal French problem—Modern Winchelsea—The Alard tombs— Denis Duval and the Westons—John Wesley—Old Rye—John Fletcher— The Jeakes'—An unknown poet—Rye church—The eight bells—Rye's streets—Rye ancient and modern—A Rye ceramist—Pett—Icklesham's accounts—A complacent epitaph—Iden and Playden—Udimore's church— Brede Place—The Oxenbridges—Dean Swift as a baby.
In the opinion of many good judges Sussex has nothing to offer so fascinating as Winchelsea and Rye; and in certain reposeful moods, when the past seems to be more than the present or future, I can agree with them. We have seen many ancient towns in our progress through the county—Chichester around her cathedral spire, Arundel beneath her grey castle, Lewes among her hills—but all have modern blood in their veins. Winchelsea and Rye seem wholly of the past. Nothing can modernise them.
Rye approached from the east is the suddenest thing in the world. The traveller leaves Ashford, in a South Eastern train, amid all the circumstances of ordinary travel; he passes through the ordinary scenery of Kent j the porters call Rye, and in a moment he is in the middle ages.
Rye is only a few yards from its station: Winchelsea, on the other hand, is a mile from the line, and one has time on the road to understand one's surroundings. It is important